With Christmas just around the corner, it’s time to prepare for the onslaught of New Year’s resolutions around eating better, or as we like to call it, Juice Cleansing January. Customers will be perusing the produce section with more frequency looking for fresh options to juice. Plan ahead and anticipate your customers’ juicing needs.
Celery juice is the most recent wellness trend thanks to celebrities, social media influencers, and other wellness gurus recommending celery juice as the essential magical elixir. Unique fruit flavors are gaining popularly, such as dragon fruit (for its vibrant pink color), prickly pear, yuzu, calamansi lime, Meyer lemon, tangerines, and more. Of course, the classic juicing items will continue to be in high demand: apple, banana, beet, carrot, cucumber, ginger, garlic, leafy greens such as kale and spinach, orange, and lemon. Be ready to answer questions about items for juicing, the shelf life of fresh juice, favorite combinations for juicing, and more. Go one step further and have juice recipes printed ready to hand out to customers new to juicing and looking for ideas.
Health-charged customers are ready to fill their baskets with fresh items. Use this opportunity to plan ahead and provide a positive shopping experience for customers, which includes having fully stocked shelves. Kick off the New Year with a healthy bang!
Keep a lookout for staff picks notes in orange.
Apple supply is beginning to tighten, which is standard at this time in the season. Expect prices to tick up gradually. Local supply on Fuji, Granny Smith, and Pink Lady is still going.
Red pears are winding down; but we have plenty of supply to last through the holidays. Locally grown Bosc are still available. Locally grown Bartlett is ending; we may see a couple more small shots.
California Hass are done for the season. Mexican Hass will keep us in steady supply heading into the New Year. California-grown Bacon are winding down, but Zutano are readily available. Fuerte, one of the most popular of all the greenskin varieties, are starting. Used as pollinators for Hass flowers, we love the delicious flavor and creamy, buttery texture of all the greenskin fruit. Plus they’re from local California farms!
Navel oranges have good supply. We’re loving the fruit from Heath Ranch—the best tasting navels this season! Cara Cara Navel are continuing steadily. Mexican choice-grade and juice-grade Valencia are readily available. Marsh Ruby grapefruit from B&J Ranch have arrived and are available exclusively through VV. Sweet, juicy, and refreshing—fruit from this grower is high quality and arrives unwaxed. Tangerine season is in full swing. Fairchild tangerines are readily available and great for juicing. The sweet tangy flavor makes this a seasonal favorite! Satsumas have strong supply in a variety of sizes: large, jumbo, and mammoth. Orlando Tangelo have good supply and are tasting great. If you haven’t tried a tangelo yet—now’s the time! They are super juicy with tangerine-like flavor that is sweeter and more fragrant. Clementines are plentiful. Kishu tangerine have come on with limited availability. Supply should improve in January when more growers come on. Page mandarins have arrived. These have the juiciness of a Minneola Tangelo and the sweetness and size of the Clementine.
Melons are likely limited across all varieties until mid-January. Specialty varieties such as Galia and Harper melons will be coming from Mexico in limited quanities at the end of December.
We’re getting everything we can on passionfruit, dragon fruit, cherimoya, and yuzu. Fun fact: In Japan there is a practice of bathing with yuzu (known as yuzuyu) every year on the winter solstice. The baths are believed to promote beauty and health and fortify against winter cold and flu, while the enzymes from the oil of the peel are thought to help soften the skin and improve digestion.
Green beans are steady and plentiful; prices are down.
Broccoli supply has improved and we should see prices have come down. Desert production of cauliflower is up; prices are falling.
Celery is very limited and prices are expected to remain high through the holidays. Supply is not expected to improve until second week of January.
Persian cucumbers are limited. Slicer cucumber supply is tight; prices are up. English Hothouse supply is a bit limited.
Globe eggplant is abundant and available at a sharp price. Graffiti will be coming into supply soon.
Greens & Lettuce
Adam Brothers Family Farm in Santa Barbara has been identified as the source of contaminated romaine in the recent E.Coli outbreak. We do not source from this grower. Our larger growers who ship from multiple regions are shipping out of California’s Imperial Valley and Yuma, Arizona and have adopted the voluntary labeling agreement on romaine and romaine hearts. Our smaller local growers such as Tomatero Farm, Givens, and Full Belly Farm display the growing region on the box and have also added harvest date stickers to boxes.
Boxed and retail greens supply are limited as growers are still recovering from the market impacts of the romaine E.Coli outbreak. With the shortage of romaine available, there was increased demand for other greens. Local growers are also reporting smaller harvests due to the colder weather. Green and red leaf supply are limited. Butter lettuce and iceberg are limited. Little Gem is done for the season.
Although the rain has affected availability from some labels, our diverse grower mix is keeping us in good supply on button, shiitake, and oyster mushrooms. Maiitake are gapping; supply is expected to continue to be limited.
Red bell peppers are very limited; prices are up. Yellow and green bells are steadier. Orange bells are readily available. Quality is high and prices are sharp. The Mexican chili season is in full swing. We’re seeing plenty of Jalapeño, Padrón, Anaheim, Serrano, and Cherry Bomb. Sweet peppers are coming back into steady availability.
Some specialty varieties are winding down for the season. Russian Banana, French Fingerling, and Ruby Crescent are just about done. The Fingerling Medley will continue for a bit longer. Look for Purple Majesty spuds coming soon! This variety is one of the more nutritious potatoes due to its high antioxidant levels. It has deep purple skin and vibrant purple flesh!
All is calm on the root front. Parsnip, rutabaga, turnip, and horseradish are in good supply. Bunched and bagged beets are readily available.
Zucchini supply is limited; prices are way up. Hard squash continues to wind down. Butternut, Delicata, and Spaghetti are still ingood supply. Red Kuri is limited to #2 or choice grade and Green Kabocha is still available. Don’t overlook Jarahdale and Angel Hair Spaghetti. These are great specialty varieties to spice up your squash display!
Tomato supply from Mexico has tightened due to colder weather, which can slow tomato maturation. Prices are up on slicers, tomatoes-on-vine (TOV), and Roma. Cherry tomatoes are steadier, as are heirlooms from Ram’s Farm. This farm is located in Baja California, Mexico where the Pacific breeze and mild climate are ideal for growing produce. The heirlooms are hand-selected to prevent bruising and pre-cooled prior to shipment to preserve freshness and integrity. Winter heirlooms from this grower are highly coveted for their great taste and quality. Picked green, these ripen beautifully!
Look for Dutch Iris, Tulips, and other winter varieties like Anemone, Sweet William, Calendula, Snap Dragon, and Protea from Thomas Farm starting in January. Thomas Farm will not be shipping from December 23rd to January 3rd. Orders for Thursday, January 5th must be in by Wednesday, January 2nd at 7AM. Dried wreaths from Full Belly Farm are available for a limited time only. The farm will be closed from December 8th through January 8th. The first shipment in 2019 will be January 9th.
For your winter floral needs, check out our new grower Wild Ridge Organics and their beautiful mixed Protea bouquets. They specialize in South African and Australian cut flowers grown in Aromas, California.
We offer a full line of organic maple products including maple syrup in glass containers and bulk sizes from Maple Valley Co-Op, a growers’ co-op. Make sure to stock up on maple sugar candy , which will now only be available for the winter season! Whipped maple cream will no longer be produced by Maple Valley, but we have the last few cases. All Maple Valley products are certified organic and free of additives, preservatives, and formaldehyde as well as being kosher-certified and vegan. Yum!
New Year, New Merchandising
Holiday planning doesn’t stop at Thanksgiving. Christmas, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day all follow in short order. These holidays are busy shopping days as customers prepare for their holidays celebrations. New Year’s Eve is all about snacking and drinking. Fresh-cut items make it easier for customers to shop for ingredients as they consider what to cook. Alternatively, fresh-cut party platters full of veggies and fruit are great additions for the party guest or host not looking to cook. Stock up on popular party ingredients such as Belgian endive and cherry tomatoes for hors d’oeuvres platters. Crudité is still all the rage, so stock up on baby carrots, celery, cucumbers, red bell peppers, broccoli, and cauliflower and display with conveniently merchandised dips. Talk to your grocery department about displaying packages of dry dip mixes and canned and or jarred olives. Including these little items with your produce inspires and encourages purchases.
New Year’s Day food traditions vary from culture to culture. One popular tradition that has spread through the U.S. in recent years is the Southern tradition of eating collard greens and black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day. These specific foods are believed to bring you good luck throughout the next year or “peas for pennies, greens for dollars, and cornbread for gold.” In Korean culture, traditional New Year’s Day foods often includes rice cake soup, dumplings or mandu, and savory pancakes with meat, fish, and vegetables. In Spain and Mexico, eating 12 grapes at midnight as the clock strikes once for each hour will bring you luck for the 12 months ahead. Get to know your customer base and tailor your displays and promotions around their needs.
After the indulgences of the holidays, customers will also be shopping for the next few weeks to make good on their New Year’s resolutions around detoxing, eating better, and staying healthy. Get ready for the health craze rush that usually lasts all month. Juice cleanses and adopting new eating habits like going raw or vegan, or cooking more at home and eating out less, are all things that will bring you new customers. Be prepared to meet these needs by offering a diverse selection of fresh produce (think celery, kale, ginger, turmeric) and familiarize your staff with basic info about juicing and different dietary guidelines. If you have a wellness department, it would be great idea to display books with juicing recipes and maybe some vegan and vegetarian cook books. January is a great time to gain and keep new customers. This is the one time of year large numbers of people in your community will be coming into your store for the first time looking for better food.